When I started doing classic weight training squats a few decades ago, it supercharged my martial arts. It and the many variations on the classic squat are some of the most important exercises to do for overall athleticism and whole-body strength.
The downside of doing heavy squats is the compressive forces on joints. One thing I noted is I lost perhaps 3/4 of an inch of height when doing squats. A few years after doing these, I took an image processing course in my biomedical engineering graduate school. They needed a guinea pig for the MRI machine to create some human anatomy images, and I volunteered. As a reward, a radiologist sat with me and reviewed the images.
One of the things the radiologist noted without emotion was the loss of water content in some of my lumbar discs. As I began to freak out a bit, he told me to relax. "Everyone has these sorts of things going on. They just don't get advanced imaging peering at their every little owie." But I took note.
I have the occasional lower back spasm, and have for decades. When they calm down a bit and/or I can get a masseuse to work with me, I/we can usually locate a spot in the lumbar area about the size of a dime. That one little area of soft tissue can freeze up my entire back, and make me walk like Frankenstein in a Creature Feature. As I've gotten more clever about how I train along with advancing in age, I'm more and more challenging my core in elaborate multiple-muscle-group exercises. This challenges those owie spots, and lets me know (with pain and spasm) when things aren't right. For some time now I've been looking for things which do the exact opposite of what squats do to my back. In other words, I wanted to find a simple way to do traction on the spine. I understood the concept; I just needed to find the right device. Low and behold it existed all along in a device I had in my gym. I am now hooked.
Take a look at this Precor "machine." I use quotes around that word because the device is elegantly simple. Expensive to buy for your own? Unfortunately yes. But it's simple, durable, and effective.
Here's a video showing it in use.
How to use the Precor® 240i StretchTrainer
You can purchase one at Amazon for about the lowest market price. Or... look for them in your gym. They may have been right under your nose all along.